The City of Vancouver released a report stating the number of homes declared vacant last year under the Empty Homes Tax program have gone down 15 per cent since 2018 and 30 per cent since the program launch in 2017.
The program, a first in North America, is designed to address the city’s rental crisis with that tax money being reinvested into affordable housing. Properties declared vacant will be issued a bill for one per cent of the property’s 2019 assessed taxable value.
For the 2020 tax year, the tax will rise to 1.2 per cent in the hopes it will push owners to occupy their empty homes.
Condos currently make up the majority of vacant homes. Most of them are located in Vancouver’s downtown core where condo density reigns. The West End recorded the highest percentage of unoccupied properties, relative to the number of residential properties in the neighbourhood that were required to declare.
As of the February 4, 2020 declaration deadline, 787 properties were declared vacant in 2019, compared to 922 at the same point in 2018, and 1,131 in 2017. This year, 97 per cent of residential property owners made their property status declaration by the deadline.
Last year, the total overall number of residential properties in the city rose 1.6 per cent year over year, mostly due to a three per cent increase in the number of condo units.